BackStory

Sunday at 4pm (on WMRA)
Peter Onuf, Ed Ayers & Brian Balogh (a.k.a. "The American History Guys")

BackStory brings historical perspective to the events happening around us today.

On each show, renowned U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Peter Onuf, and Brian Balogh tear a topic from the headlines and plumb its historical depths.

Over the course of the hour, they are joined by fellow historians, people in the news, and callers interested in exploring the roots of what’s going on today.

Together, they drill down to colonial times and earlier, revealing the connections (and disconnections) between past and present.

With its passionate, intelligent, and irreverent approach, BackStory is fun and essential listening no matter who you are.

Meet the American History Guys:

Peter Onuf (18th Century Guy) is the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Professor of History at the University of Virginia and the author/editor of eleven books, including most recently, Nations, Markets, and War: Modern History and the American Civil War.

Ed Ayers (19th Century Guy) is President of the University of Richmond. Previously, he served as Hugh P. Kelly Professor of History and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Virginia. The author/editor of ten books (including the Bancroft Prize-winning In the Presence of Mine Enemies), Ed also directed the online history project “The Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War.”

Brian Balogh (20th Century Guy) is a Professor of History at the University of Virginia and Director of the Fellowship Program at Governing America in a Global Era Program at UVA’s Miller Center of Public Affairs. His third book, A Government Out of Sight: The Mystery of National Authority in Nineteenth-Century America, was published in 2009.

Genre: 
BackStory
4:00 pm
Sun May 4, 2014

Stars & Tsars

U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt and Soviet premier Joseph Stalin at the Yalta conference, February 1945.

In the past year, the White House and the Kremlin have sparred over Syria, the Winter Olympics, and now, the crisis in Ukraine. It can be tempting to view these events through the familiar lens of the Cold War, but in this episode, the History Guys probe the deeper history of our relationship with Russia — and discover moments of comity as well as conflict.

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BackStory
4:00 pm
Sun April 20, 2014

Dust to Dust

mastodon, skeleton 1816
Charles Peales

Scientists project that nearly 20,000 species across the globe are at a high risk of extinction, and that within the next 300 years, some 75 percent of all mammals could completely disappear from Earth. Experts say that we are in the middle of the sixth mass extinction of life on earth. And what distinguishes it from the previous five extinctions is that it is being caused by humans.

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BackStory
4:00 pm
Sun April 13, 2014

Responsibility to Protect?

"Save me from my friends!" Uncle Sam shelters Cuba
Puck, 1898

In 1898, President McKinley called for war with Spain to liberate Cuba from the “barbarities, bloodshed, starvation, and horrible miseries now existing there”—offering a humanitarian justification that has underpinned other interventions, from Haiti in 1915 to Libya in 2011. But in 1994, President Clinton took a stance against intervening in Rwanda, even as the scale of the humanitarian crisis there became clear. As we mark the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, BackStory takes on the history of humanitarian intervention.

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BackStory
4:00 pm
Sun April 6, 2014

Responsibility to Protect?

"Save me from my friends!" Uncle Sam shelters Cuba
Puck, 1898.

With President Obama making the case for military action against Syria, BackStory takes on the history of humanitarian intervention. In 1898, President McKinley called for war with Spain to liberate Cuba from the “barbarities, bloodshed, starvation, and horrible miseries now existing there” – offering the kind of humanitarian rhetoric that has come up time and time again in American history, justifying numerous interventions around the world – from Haiti in 1915 to Libya in 2011. But where does the idea of a humanitarian obligation originate?

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BackStory
4:00 pm
Sun March 30, 2014

Wage Hikes: A History of Getting Paid

Strikers from the Ladies Tailors Union, 1910.
LOC

In February, President Obama signed an executive order raising the minimum wage to $10.10 for federal contract workers. With minimum wage increases being debated in 24 states, Obama is also calling on Congress to raise the minimum wage for all workers — even as the CBO estimates that such a move could cost the economy 500,000 jobs. On this episode of BackStory, we’re exploring the history of American thinking about wage work. We’ll hear how the early colonies shifted away from indentured servitude, and toward racially-based slavery.

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BackStory
4:00 pm
Sun February 9, 2014

Outed: Sexual Identity in America

Affectionate Valentine couple, c1890
Wikimedia Commons

As the Winter Olympics in Sochi approach, countries around the world have expressed concerns over Russian legislation outlawing LGBTQ “propaganda.” The Obama administration called the law offensive, and the president pointedly chose several openly gay athletes for the US Olympic delegation. But recent Supreme Court decisions on gay marriage have highlighted our own internal debate on sexuality and its expression in the public sphere. So in this episode, we explore the often hidden stories of sexuality in American history.

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BackStory
3:34 pm
Fri June 29, 2012

Independence Daze: A History of July Fourth

In the early days of our nation, July Fourth wasn’t an official holiday at all. In fact, it wasn’t until 1938 that it became a paid day-off. So how did the Fourth become the holiest day on our secular calendar?

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WMRA
11:17 am
Fri June 15, 2012

New Weekend Schedule for WMRA

WMRA is offering some exciting new weekend programs.

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